Is Spring Carnival Horse Racing An Event of Class and Prestige?
Any Point in Attending If You Are Not Into Horse Racing?
Another Excuse for People To Behave Poorly?
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This may surprise many people but I am actually quite into horse racing. I enjoy watching a handful of races, particularly during Spring Carnival. I spend time speaking to experts and researching the history of the horses. The thrill of picking a winner never loses it flavour. Over the last five years I have stopped attending the Spring Carnival and I have elected to do go down to local TAB and place my bests and watch the races from the comfort of my own home. I cannot stomach the crowds that attend the event anymore.
In 1970 Hunter S Thompson wrote an article for Scanlan’s Monthly entitled The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. Thompson detailed his experience at the Derby “We didn’t give a hoot in hell as to what was happening on the track. We had come to watch the real beasts perform. Most of them staggering about, fainting, crying, copulating, and trampling each other”. Thompson sums up how I feel about the Australian equivalent perfectly.
Australia’s major racing event is Melbourne’s Spring Carnival season. It’s a lead up to the main event, the Emirate’s Melbourne Cup. Spring Carnival is a major part of Melbourne’s social calendar. It is a day when work places, friends, and families gather together to socialise, party and place bets with the thrill of a possible win (which is often the only time of the year many people actually bet on horse racing).
A number of other social occasions surround the Spring Carnival, including various fashion events and a public holiday for the city of Melbourne. The Australian horse racing industry earns over two billion dollars a year with Australians spending over $95 billion a year on horse gambling.
I believe that I am in the small minority of people who actually attend/attended Spring Carnival because of genuine interest in horse racing. The mass majority of people who attend have absolutely no interest in horse racing or watching the event. They barely watch any of the races. What are they doing there?
Melbourne is a highly pretentious town, with many people aspiring to be what they are not. It’s no surprise that there is an eruption of them at Spring Carnival. It’s a highlight of the Melbourne annual fashion calendar. Women and men dress up in their finest, all ready to pose and posture: To see and be seen. The ticket that they buy also sells them a false sense of prestige. It makes them feel important and part of the elite Melbourne scene. I can accept a feeling of prestige if one is in The Birdcage, the most exclusive and invite only marquee. Most other marquees and general admission tickets are just a smoke and mirror illusion and people fall for it annually.
The mass majority of the event is a vulgar affair, but it’s concealed vulgarity in its initial stages. It eventually comes apart as the day continues. People arrive in the morning all dressed up. They snack on food, chat, and sip on champagne. All this rapidly goes downhill and by late afternoon the grounds become a field of uncoordinated bodies.
Drunks laying about and slurring their words. Women stumbling around barefoot throwing up. Men urinating and taking naps wherever they see fit. The amount of littering that goes on is an absolute disgrace. These vulgarians also seem to think that they have a right to drop their rubbish everywhere but the bins provided. The grounds become an ocean of rubbish. They call this event “style” but I beg to differ.
It virtually becomes a day of how much you can drink, how much of a fool you can make of yourself and which drunk male or female you will target for sex. Australian society’s dysfunctional relationship with alcohol is also on full display: drink to get drunk and to lose inhibitions. It’s sad to think that people feel the need to be intoxicated in order to find the courage to sexually proposition someone, to accept a sexual proposition or to just have fun.
Keep in mind, we are not talking about 14 year olds who are having their first experiences with alcohol. We are talking about uncouth and slovenly adults that don’t have the self respect to conduct themselves in a civilized manner. The horses in the stables have more dignity and style.
Check out my article on bare feet in public by clicking here